Making CRM a-ok

For Canadian enterprises, the concept and implementation of CRM (customer relationship management) software has become as ubiquitous as it is relevant.

Many vendors are now touting the concept of analytical CRM and its ability to allow companies to better develop an understanding of customers.

But how do companies define CRM, specifically analytical CRM? And for the IT professional, does more data automatically translate into a better understanding of the customer?

The “customer-centric” value proposition of CRM must first be founded on an “employee-centric” approach – the internal efficiencies are just as important as those that are customer-facing, said Jacob Abramowicz, senior research analyst at Toronto-based E-Search Canada. The main difference between Canadian companies using CRM and their American counterparts is that Canadians are more focused on the total cost of ownership, Abramowicz said, but added Canadian companies, particularly those in the mid-market are still unclear on the CRM concept.

Nick Manocchio, director of CRM at BCE CRM development in Toronto, said the Telco industry defines CRM as a customer strategy. “The metrics we’ve used to quantify success for us are anchored on customer satisfaction, net revenue, retention, operating cost, key metrics to strategy,” Manocchio said.

“Focus is clearly around a customer experience strategy eliminating the fragmented experience through the various channels…and across the various product lines that try to reach them,” Manocchio said.

This translates into a transformation in operational processes, he added. For the IT workers actually using the new processes, it was clearly a “culture breaker,” Manocchio said. “People who have focused on specific operating procedures for a very long time are now being asked to transform into much broader context and in a much more customer service-centric approach than we’ve ever put forward,” he said, adding the training has gone better than anticipated.

“It’s been one of the key successes – where we thought that it would be difficult to absorb has not been; we’ve actually experienced the contrary. We’ve experienced a far shorter learning curve than we have ever anticipated,” Manocchio noted.

Baan customer Alexander Krasser, CRM project manager of Andritz in Graz, Austria said as the high-tech production systems provider shifted from a product-centric to a process-oriented approach it meant a lot of changes – and lots of training – for employees. “We want to optimize the workflow and further standardize the processes,” Krasser said. “For Andritz, the CRM system is a global data base driven tool to coordinate and optimize activities and actions between Andritz and its customers and within Andritz.”

Krasser said the ultimate goal for the high tech production system developer is to increase after-market sales and have “one face to the customer.”

Companies are all in business for one reason and that is to make a profit – which is the key reason for using CRM, said Mitch Myers, vice-president of operations at equipment control and monitoring systems manufacturer FW Murphy in Tulsa, Okla. The J.D. Edwards customer agreed that using CRM does take some getting used to. “For initial users…it was shell shock because they were not used to a very structured approach of entering information into a database and keeping track of all that information,” Myers said.

“It costs us much more to find a new customer than to service the ones we already have. (CRM) is not only a better understanding, it is a globally consistent view of the customer,” Myers said.